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Triple Tree fly-in turns 10Triple Tree fly-in turns 10

Pilots, aircraft, and ground-based aviation enthusiasts descended on South Carolina’s Triple Tree Aerodrome near Greenville for the tenth annual Triple Tree Fly-In, held this year from Sept. 7 through 11, under startlingly blue skies and brilliant sunshine. The airfield’s signature 7,000-by-400-foot bentgrass landing strip was the star attraction, followed closely by Southern hospitality. Guidelines posted online for attendees included a thank you note with instructions to “enjoy the fun, fellowship, and hospitality.”

  • The sun rises above campers at Triple Tree Aerodrome where hundreds of pilots and their aircraft gathered along the airfield's 7,000-foot-long bentgrass runway and camping sites nestled among Carolina pines and hardwoods for the 10th annual fly-in and campout Sept. 7-11. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A motorized paraglider performs a flyover just after sunrise amid parked aircraft and pilots' shadows at Triple Tree Aerodrome. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A group of five pilots from Alexandria, Louisiana, surveys early morning arrivals at Triple Tree Aerodrome during the airfield's annual fly-in and campout. Stephen Mertens, Gary Vellery, Keith Poteet, Ken Eversull, and Bill Amsden were returning from a group aviation trip to Iowa and Ohio where they clocked 2,200 miles in their five aircraft. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Tall trees welcome hundreds of aviation enthusiasts during a fly-in and campout at Triple Tree Aerodrome in Woodruff, South Carolina. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Aircraft are reflected in a pond at Triple Tree Aerodrome where Kyle Carden casts for bass during the annual fly-in. Carden and his father Keith flew from their Irvington, Alabama, home in their Stinson Voyager, an airplane that is now serving the family's fourth generation. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Bill Amsden, of Alexandria, Louisiana, preflights his 1947 Aeronca 11AC Chief before heading home on the return leg of a 2,200-mile aviation adventure he shared with fellow pilots Stephen Mertens, Gary Vellery, Keith Poteet, and Ken Eversull. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Triple Tree Aerodrome's main gazebo is a gathering spot for aviators informally judging fellow pilots on their landings at the turf strip during the annual fly-in and campout in South Carolina. Photo by David Tulis.
  • The manicured bentgrass turf runway and taxiways at Triple Tree Aerodrome are maintained with the precision of golf course greens. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Triple Tree Aerodrome patriarch Pat Hartness stands near a restored Spartan aircraft during the annual September fly-in and campout. The airfield also hosts an annual radio control fly-in and says on its website that pilots will "find that the passion for flying is alive and well at Triple Tree." Photo by David Tulis.
  • A pilot prepares to taxi a restored Lockheed Electra toward Triple Tree's bentgrass runway while an arriving Beechcraft Bonanza lands on the 7,000-foot-long turf strip. Photo by David Tulis.
  • AOPA President Mark Baker addresses aviation enthusiasts during a Pilot Town Hall at Triple Tree Aerodrome where he talked about ongoing advocacy efforts. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A pilot taxis his Vans Aircraft RV-6 past parked aircraft at Triple Tree Aerodrome. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A Vultee BT-13B is silhouetted at Triple Tree Aerodrome's annual fly-in and campout. Photo by David Tulis.
  • An airplane departs past a restored military control tower erected above Triple Tree Aerodrome. The Sept. 7-11 event brought "1,900-plus aircraft movements reported from the tower," said the airfield's Pam Fowler. Photo by David Tulis.
  • A Decathlon takes Triple Tree's 7,000-foot-long bentgrass Runway 21 for departure. Photo by David Tulis.
  • Hundreds of aviation enthusiasts gathered at Triple Tree Aerodrome for the annual fly-in and campout along a manicured turf runway and inviting facilities in Woodruff, South Carolina, near Greenville. Photo by David Tulis.

Pilots flocked in early for Thursday night’s "cook your own steak" option, which has become a calling card for those in the know. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner were served throughout the event with signature Southern flair and hospitality. Many pitched tents near their aircraft nestled among the hardwoods and tall pines of the immaculately maintained 400-acre facility. A 4,000-by-200-foot lake doubled as an amphibious landing area and a bass fishing spot.

Warriors and Warbirds pilot Alex Mello wowed weekend attendees with several low passes in Tinker Belle, a Curtiss C-46 Commando based at Charlotte-Monroe Executive Airport in Monroe, North Carolina, before touching down softly near Triple Tree’s restored military control tower. The tower provided guidance for 1,900 operations during the multi-day event, according to Triple Tree’s Pam Fowler, and scores of orange-vested volunteers marshaled aircraft on the ground.

Weekend highlights included AOPA President Mark Baker’s Pilot Town Hall in a hangar filled with a restored Spartan Executive, P-51 Mustang, and T-6 Texan owned by airfield patriarch Pat Hartness. The Spartanburg Jazz Ensemble provided evening entertainment. Hands-on workshops were scheduled for attendees interested in learning more about engines, fabric coverings, and electronics; others simply took advantage of favorable weather and runway conditions to hone their soft-field techniques.

Triple Tree also hosts the annual Joe Nall Week, a radio control fly-in attended by thousands, which is scheduled for May 13 through 20, 2017.

David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: Fly in, US Travel

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